Alberta legislation recognizes naturopaths 0
Cayley Dobie Lacombe Globe Dr. Joanne Day goes over patient files in her office at Healing Hands in Lacombe. Day hopes the new provincial regulations will give the public more confidence when it comes to choosing a naturopath.
Alberta has become the third province to officially recognize naturopathy under their health professions act, establishing the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta as the new regulating body in the province.
"It won't affect my day-to-day running because (naturopaths) have a strong provincial licensing body that's transitioning into the college," said Dr. Joanne Day, Lacombe's only naturopathic doctor.
While naturopathic doctors have been waiting many years for this legislation to come through, they weren't sitting idly by. They've had their own association working to establish regulations that the doctors are required to work within, much like the legislation now requires of the college.
But that doesn't make the provincial declaration meaningless.
"It'll be nice because it will give the public the confidence that I am a licensed naturopathic doctor, and this transition has created more awareness," said Day.
Under the new legislation, naturopathic doctor becomes a protected title to be governed by the college. Day hopes this will help clarify any confusion potential patients may have, especially about who is actually a licensed naturopathic doctor.
"The word naturopathic doctor was used kind of loosely for anyone who practiced any kind of alternative health and natural health," said Day.
Plus, the legislation also ensures that when you choose to visit a naturopathic doctor you can be confident they have been officially licensed by the governing college.
"When (someone's) coming to see a naturopathic doctor they're coming to see someone who has that three years of bachelor studies and four years of naturopathic school," said Day.
Proper education can be rather difficult to come by. There are currently only two accredited naturopathic medical colleges in Canada, one in Toronto and the other in Vancouver.
Both provinces already recognize their naturopathic doctors under their own health acts, but Day says there is still a ways to go for the profession in Alberta.
"We have a good scope of practice," said Day. "But I definitely would like it to evolve to be more similar to Ontario and B.C., who have a bigger scope of practice."
In B.C., naturopathic doctors have limited prescription rights, which allow them to give medication to patients who may have health conditions that need to be addressed prior to their naturopath treatment.
In Alberta, the scope of practice doesn't give any prescription rights to naturopathic doctors. For Day, these rights would be beneficial if she had a patient who required medical treatment as well as natural treatments.
"Sometimes, in the moment, you need those medications, because a lot of naturopathic therapy takes time and (sometimes) you don't have that time," said Day.
But for now, Day is simply happy the legislation finally went through.
"It's been at the (legislature) stage since I was at school," said Day. "So to have it finally go through is great."